Sunday, May 5, 2013

CFR Prez Richard Haass: Oldsters "Stealing from Our Children!"

Richard Haass clearly HAAAAAS NO sense, or powers of minimal perception, or discrimination. In his TIME essay (‘Bringing it all back home’, March 13, p. 19) this president of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR – a hotshot group of elites that weighs in on foreign policy) clearly names the proverbial elephant in the room. That is, the ‘elephant’ responsible for drowning us in debt-deficits and leaving our domestic needs unattended and the country in tatters. In his own words:

“Many participants in the foreign policy debate appear to have forgotten the injunction of former President John Quincy Adams that America ‘goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy’.
Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan (as of 2009) was a war of necessity; more important neither was a justifiable war of choice.. In both cases, the interests at stake were decidedly less than vital.”

Here he names the ‘elephant’ laying waste to the domestic landscape:  the gross, even malignant expansion of the Military Industrial- Complex. The Complex and political establishment invested in the insane policy of perpetual war, that has drained us dry and made the country even more vulnerable to terrorism than it would have been had we not stuck our nose in where it never belonged. Indeed, even now the drone missions are increasing Terrorism like a cancer, even as Guantanamo is.

This Military malignancy has already drained us of over $4 trillion and it may well be much more, when all the medical needs of the returned Iraq and Afghanistan vets are tended to, as well as their future disability benefits finally paid for.

Yet despite naming the ‘elephant’ clearly, Haass wanders off the beaten path and points to seniors receiving Social Security or on Medicare STEALING "from our children"! He states in another paragraph that we haven’t attended to those domestic priorities left orphans by our overseas meddling. True enough! Then he adds: we've been “lurching from crisis to crisis almost going off fiscal cliffs…..stealing from our children by refusing to rein in spending on Medicare and retirement”.

How did this inept bozo mess up so badly? First he commits the equivocation and conflation error by using ambiguous verbiage that fails to distinguish the actual culpable agents (i.,e. Repuke Tea Baggers) who created the fiscal cliff panic and (2011) debt ceiling crisis  from those CITIZENS who are Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. People who had NADA to do with either of the former! Second, he compounds this equivocation error by accusing the willfully conflated group  (innocent older citizens) of committing theft on future generations! This goes beyond a lack of temperance to total lack of basic common sense.

Perhaps a fact or two may assist this chuckle head. Fact one: Tens of thousands of seniors with cancer who need chemotherapy have been turned away from Cancer centers (that deliver the treatments) thanks to just 2% cuts to Medicare providers. This arrived thanks to the brutal sledge hammer of the “Sequester”. Meanwhile, let us note the insane military weapons brigade has had to suffer NO cuts at all ZERO! Not one! They managed to finagle an exception.

Haass is also evidently oblivious to the fact that Social Security hasn’t contributed to the deficit and indeed, legally is forbidden by law to do so. Indeed, more than $2.3 trillion of Social Security monies have been raided by congress over the past 15 years. Hence, the claim that it is “stealing” from our children is absolute balderdash.

As for Medicare, Haass needs to direct his CFR gaze to the Medicare Advantage (privatized) program passed by the Bushies in 2003. That privatized version has sent traditional Medicare into insolvency by spending at least $12 billion more per year, while passing additional costs to the premiums paid by standard Medicare beneficiaries.

So, it is reckless in the extreme for Haass – whatever his position in the CFR- to employ such loose, unfactual rhetoric. In fact, he owes seniors on Medicare an apology –especially now we see first hand what even minimal cuts will do.

But in spreading such misbegotten tropes Haass is by no means alone. In the same TIME issue, the Neoliberal clown Joe Klein (author of ‘Primary Colors’) goes off his own deep end in playing the false equivalence game. He actually puts those of us challenging Obama on the Chained CPI issue (for Social Security) in the same "extremist" league as the NRA - which recently shot down a weak gun control law! Is he nuts, or just high?

Klein begins his essay referencing political demagoguery, i.e. “by well funded extremist groups to thwart the will of the overwhelming majority”. In this he accurately names the NRA, which was largely responsible for recently  killing a very tame bill for universal background checks –  with which 90% of Americans approved.

Had he remained focused on that example and expatiated on it, he’d have been fine and I’d not have had to append the clown label. But he didn’t. NO, he then decided to jump on a high horse and pair “demagogue DEMS” with the NRA! This was by using the case of Howard Dean’s brother who recently sent out a letter headed ‘Disgusted’ with the subtitle: ‘President Obama’s Budget Has Left me Disgusted’. This was in reference to Obama's ridiculous inclusion of the "Chained CPI" in his recent budget.

Klein responded in his predictably Neoliberal pundit vernacular:

“Really? WHY? Because the President called for very modest cuts in old age entitlements”.

Errrr NO, Clown! Those were not “very modest cuts”! The Chained-CPI reduces the cost of living adjustment down by 0.3 percentage points annually. That translates into a cut in benefits of 3 percent for those who have been retired ten years, 6 percent after 20 years, and 9 percent after 30 years. The people who have been retired the longest and are, therefore, the poorest, will see the largest cuts. A 1% "bump" isn't going to make much of a difference. This is a cut. And it's substantial. After just ten years a senior will lose an entire month’s benefits – perhaps equal to half what he or she must pay for meds!

Even more noisome to me, but what you'd expect from the coddled  'Wine and brie' DC Elites Klein represents, is a pernicious belief that 70-year-olds who are living on $25k- 35k a year won't feel a cut in their incomes, which just goes to show how detached they are from the way people really live. You factor in ONE major medical emergency or say a breast cancer requiring tamoxifen or long term chemo, and the affected senior is not merely reduced to cat food but out and out garbage! Meanwhile, the rich bastards continue to insist on the gold-plated toilets, special health spas, and trips to St. Kitts over the weekend for 18 holes. It's a god damned disgrace!

Contrary to Klein’s take, Dean’s brother was spot on. It is Klein who is wrong, as much as Richard Haass. The very fact Klein could pair the NRA’s recent antics with Jim Dean’s letter in terms of demagoguery and extremism is as insane as it is odious. Indeed, if TIME had any consistent journalistic standards it would send this overpaid hack packing. Then maybe he could pen another pot-boiler novel, say like 'Primary ASSHoles'

It also shows me that the Neoliberals have now resorted to such warped rhetoric that they can’t even be taken seriously any more. Klein clearly shows, like Haass, that when one ceases to invoke facts and recklessly equates the NRA’s antics to opposition against the Chained CPI or Medicare cuts, there is no longer substance to arguments. In this case, the essays attempted are merely propaganda pieces designed to sway weak minds, or maybe fellow Neolibs.

Despite that, we all need to be aware of how this entrenched political Elite continues to make up lies as it attempts to destroy our social insurance infrastructure. If you want to see the swine really behind it all, including the Reinhart-Rogoff paper that attempted to academically justify austerity - while the rich live high off the low-tax hog - go to )

The next time Haass or any other overpaid, self-important hack thinks of playing the "generational war" meme they need to be reminded of the following:

- Seven million children currently live with grandparents - who depend on Social Security to care for them

- 8.5 million other children (including college kids that find themselves jobless and live at home) who live with elder parents that depend on Social Security to make do.

- The tens of millions of 50-plus Americans who, through their tax dollars and Social Security monies, pensions, provide voluntary contributions to support public schools, child health programs, grandparent guardianship programs as well as other charities that care for homeless kids (e.g. Covenant House).

 Concocting war between the generations, pitting young against old, therefore serves no useful or moral purpose. It is merely a cheap, malicious tactic to take attention from the REAL problem: the malignant growth of the Military Industrial Complex to the detriment of all of us outside it!

Haass, having identified the actual "bad guy" in his piece, the Perpetual War mongers, ought to be ashamed of himself for implicating seniors as contributing to the nation's crises. A President of the CFR, one would have thought, would know better.

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